1 February 2016
Transcript - #2016010, 2016

In the role of: Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer [21 September 2015 - 18 July 2016]

Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, tax reform, Newspoll

MINISTER O’DWYER:

I am delighted today to announce Kate Carnell as the first formal appointment for the position of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. This is the fulfilment of a Government election commitment, made to small business and I can think of no finer person to take on the role of advocating for small business, for making sure that their disputes can be resolved without costly litigation and for ensuring that Commonwealth and State laws and regulations are fit for purpose when it comes to small business. Kate, as many of you would know, is a former Chief Minister here in the ACT and the former CEO of ACCI. But most importantly, she started her career as a pharmacist. She knows what small business is about and is absolutely the right person for the job. Her team will commence in March of this year and, as I said, this is a fulfilment of a very significant commitment made to small business to ensure that they have a powerful advocate with real powers making sure that small business is at the forefront of our economy.

JOURNALIST:

What services will this Ombudsman be able to provide to small businesses?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

The Small Business Ombudsman will be able to make sure that where there are disputes, those disputes can be resolved without costly litigation. So often, we hear from small businesses that when they have a dispute, often with a bigger business, they feel completely disempowered by that, and they don’t have the funds or capacity to take it to court. With our Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, we have someone who can ensure that those disputes are resolved without costly litigation and we can make sure there is a fair go for small business.

JOURNALIST:

Why was Kate the right person for the job? You of course mentioned that she started in small business herself. I imagine there would have been a number of people that could have been appropriate for this role?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

I think anybody who has met Kate knows that she is a very dynamic and powerful advocate and we wanted small business to know that they had the most powerful advocate that we could find right across Australia. It was a very, very competitive search process, and Kate was the most qualified person for that job. She understands what it’s like to work in small business, she understands what it’s like to hire people, she understands what it’s like when things aren’t working out necessarily with the people that have been hired. She understands how difficult it is when you risk your own capital to grow your business. That is something that is common to the experience of so many small businesses right across Australia. We have more than two million small businesses across Australia and they contribute more than $340 billion to our economy. They are absolutely critical which is why Kate is such a fantastic appointment.

JOURNALIST:

Just on another matter. What do you make of the Newspoll results today regarding the GST and more than 50 per cent of voters are against it?

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Well, I’m not the best person to give you a commentary on the polls. I think you are much better placed to be able to do that, than I am. But, let me say this. We will always be listening to the people of Australia and that is why we have taken the position of not ruling anything in and not ruling anything out. Our starting point, when it comes to tax reform, is to make sure that we can lower the overall tax burden, that we can make our taxation system fit for purpose, to make sure that our economy can remain competitive. We want to encourage people to work hard and be rewarded for that effort. We want to encourage small businesses that risk their capital to again be rewarded for that effort. We know that our taxation system hasn’t always kept pace with being as competitive as it needs to be. We know that those people who are in the second highest income tax bracket will be paying even more tax as of next year when they’re simply on an average income. So we know that there are changes that need to be made, and that’s why we are looking so seriously at this.

JOURNALIST:

How are the conversations going with the states and territories? Obviously we’ve seen Mike Baird coming out this morning still pushing again for that increase to the GST.

MINISTER O’DWYER:

Well, as you can tell, the conversations with the states and territories are ongoing. The Treasurer has had many conversations with the State Treasurers and the State Premiers and I know today won’t be the last of them. There will be more to come but we welcome the contribution that is being made. We don’t always agree with everything that is said but we will have a very open discussion and debate. Thank you.